Exploring fatherhood from a man's perspective
The aim of this research was to explore fatherhood from a man’s perspective. How do fathers respond emotionally when they experience fatherhood for the first time? What influences these responses? When fathers feel unable to share difficulties with their partner do internet discussion sites provide an effective medium for fathers to access support and advice? Given the important role fathers play in the lives of their children, what factors might lead them to disengage and cease contact? These questions are addressed within the thesis. Chapter 1 provides a review of the literature and aims to focus on exploring the father-child relationship from the father’s perspective and potential hurdles and barriers fathers may have to negotiate when developing and maintaining involvement with their child. Chapter 2 details the main paper. This Grounded Theory study explores the salient emotional experiences of nine fathers, three to six months after the birth of their first child. Emotional responses appear to be influenced by the father’s personal history and the social and interpersonal context. Feelings of attachment to the child are linked to the early attachment experience at birth and subsequently to interplay between instability, turmoil and positive change or growth. Methodological issues and clinical implications are discussed. Chapter 3 details the brief paper. A topic area on an on-line internet discussion forum for fathers was examined in detail using narrative analysis. Findings revealed evidence of significant emotional expression, yet limited emphatic emotional or informational support. Two types of contributors were identified, those using a ‘conversational’ dialogue and those only expressing their views/experience. Future research and developments within the internet are discussed. Chapter 4 offers a reflective review of entering a father’s world as a researcher and includes reflections on the research process, my role as a researcher and the research findings.